Training in Cancer Mechanisms and Therapeutics

students working together at a workshop in the student guidance centre



TRACT ESRs will receive technical training in a) methods specific to the individual ESR research projects b) methods common across the three TRACT research themes. Training in project-specific methods will be delivered locally under the direction of the Primary Supervisor and Secondary Supervisor. Training in project-wide methods will be delivered through a series of workshops held throughout the project.

Tumour Histology (TCD 2 days):

This course will familiarise students with histology and its use in tumour grading and tissue of origin determination. Hands-on-experience in tissue sectioning, tissue embedding, immunohistochemical (IHC) staining and H&E staining will be provided using tumour samples recovered from the xenograft workshop. 

Antibody Technology in Cancer Research and Therapy (TCD 2 days):

A local specialist training course in antibody technologies will be delivered at TBSI where ESRs will attend lectures on the theory of antibody technologies and therapeutics widely used in cancer research and in the clinic. A series of practicals will also be given as part of the workshop, where ESRs will perform experiments using each of these technologies. 

Animal Models in Cancer Research and Drug Discovery (TCD 2 days):

This event will include four lectures on the use of animals in cancer research: xenograft, transgenic, gene-targeted and CRISPR generated cancer models and the technologies that have been developed to evaluate and analyse tumour status. Students will gain hands-on-experience, of benefit for subsequent training events (see below). TBSI is equipped with a state-of-the-art transgenic facility, in vivo animal imaging capabilities (with multiphoton intravital microscope), histology suite, MoFlo 4-Color High Performance Cell Sorter and an 800 MHz NMR spectrometer. 

Whole Body Imaging in Xenograft Cancer Models (TCD 2 days):

In vivo live imaging of tumour xenografts has become a key technology to understanding cancer development and metastasis and in the evaluation of cancer therapeutic drugs. Students will have the opportunity to carry out imaging of xenograft animals, and evaluate and quantitate the growth over time. 

Drug Discovery and Medicinal Chemistry (UNISI 2 days):

This workshop will cover the principal discovery and development phases of small drug molecules. Topics covered will include: target selection; biochemical and computational strategies of molecular design; optimisation and selection processes; pharmacokinetic and toxicological assays used to inform transition to phase I trials.

Biomarker Discovery (UVEG 2 days):

This course will examine the need and potential for novel biomarker discovery in a clinical setting. ESRs will receive structured training in current genomic, proteomic and glycomic biomarker discovery theory and techniques. The workshop will also provide grounding in the use of bioinformatics and analytical tools in biomarker validation.

Cancer Cell Metabolism (Seahorse 2 days):

Metabolic transformation is a universal property of tumour formation and a promising mode of treatment. Through state-of-the-art Seahorse analysis ESRs will learn about the alterations in metabolism that sustain cancer cell growth and resistance to therapy. 


Training in Mitochondrial and Cellular Respiratory Physiology (Oroboros 3 days):

Oroboros will provide O2k- Workshops to TRACT ESRs on use of the Oxygraph-2k respirometer to measure oxygen consumption rates, transmembrane potential differences using TPP-electrodes and fluorescence sensitive electrodes to determine hydrogen peroxide production (Amplex red), membrane potential (Safranin), ATP production (Mg green) or Ca2+ (Ca green).

Fluorescence and Electron Microscopy Imaging of Cells (Andor/TCD 4 days):

This training course will consist of a placement on the Andor Academy level three training programme at the Andor facility in Belfast. This element will cover topics in advanced light microscopy and will take two days. The CMA/TBSI in TCD will run a two-day workshop on the use and application of electron microscopy for biological imaging.

Computational Biology (QUB 3 days):

In this training course ESRs will be given a systematic introduction to quantitative analysis methods for high-throughput data which is needed to analyse genomics data from biology and cancer biology.

NMR Mini Boot Camp of BioBank Analyses and Metabolomic Transformation in Cancer (TCD 2 days):

TCD’s TBSI are developing 2D NMR metabolomics methodologies. This training course will be targeted to provide the ESRs (as well as to others in the medical, pharma, and bio research sectors): (1) lectures introducing the underlying principles and practices of modern NMR spectroscopy, with (2) hands-on experience to be able to run and analyse biomolecular samples. 

Analytical Techniques in Glycobiology- Applications to biomarker discovery (NIBRT 3 days):

This course will be run by NIBRT in their research facilities in Dublin and specifically trains researchers in biomarker discovery and validation. The focus will be on glycan biomarkers and blood samples from cancer patients will be analysed during the 3-day course. Complex HPLC and MS techniques will be presented to TRACT researchers who will carry out sample clean-up experiments, derivatization procedures, HPLC analysis and interpretation of results using established in-house database systems (GlycoBase).